Since the Build Back Better Act is bogged down because of the Man of La Manchin and the Sinematic Senator, Chuck Schumer has bumped voting rights to the top of the hopper. That requires filibuster reform. The same senators who derailed BBB stand in the way of a filibuster carve out for voting rights. The Fifty-Fifty senate sucks.
Manchin and Sinema both claim to favor voting rights but their word is not their bond. Both were for the BBB before they were against it. They’ve pretended that they never voted in favor of the budget resolution that contained BBB. Neither can be trusted but to get something, anything done they have to be part of the dialogue. Repeat after me: the Fifty-Fifty senate sucks.
The two so-called moderates reflect the state of our political union more than the state of their states. Selfishness is in vogue. Manchin has made himself the spoke of the senatorial wheel because he’s an attention whore. Sinema remains more mysterious but she’s equally selfish. Neither of them has even a modicum of party loyalty, which is the grease that makes the senatorial wheel spin.
I’ve been thinking of 1993 when Bill Clinton’s first major legislation barely passed the House. It was a budget bill that raised taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Democrats had a majority in the senate, but politicians hate to vote to raise taxes. The vote boiled down to a genuine moderate, Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska.
Kerrey ran against Bill Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 1992. There was no love lost between the two men. Kerrey wasn’t crazy about Bill’s bill BUT he agreed to be the decisive vote in favor because he didn’t want to be responsible for kneecapping the Clinton presidency. Relations between Manchin and President Biden are ostensibly better than those between Kerrey and Clinton but that doesn’t seem to matter.
The difference between Kerrey-Clinton and Manchin-Biden is a sign of the times. Manchin is a selfish bastard who seems not to care that he’s torpedoing the agenda of a president of his own party. Two words come to mind: selfishness and shamelessness. Bob Kerrey was a fundamentally decent man who did not want to damage a president he didn’t like as a person. Joe Manchin is a shameless opportunist who’s in it for himself. Selfishness and shamelessness are a toxic combination.
There’s a lot of wishful thinking on the Hipster Twitter Left that if Chuck Schumer had more “spine” or “backbone” he could somehow browbeat the Man of La Manchin and the Sinematic Senator into supporting the Biden agenda. The senate has never worked that way and it never will. It’s a legislative body, not the plot of a comic book movie. You have to have the votes. Lyndon Johnson or Harry Reid would have found it just as hard to move legislation in a Fifty-Fifty senate as Schumer has.
Schumer has 48 firm votes for both the BBB and a filibuster carve-out for voting rights. The latter is quite an accomplishment: it’s taken time for veteran senators to come around on filibuster reform. A reminder that Bernie Sanders and other progressives were opposed to changing the filibuster in the pre-McConnell era.
I’m glad that Schumer has decided to put the two recalcitrant Democratic senators on the record on filibuster reform. I think he should do the same with the BBB. It’s high time to flush out the filibuster four-flushers and point the finger of blame in their direction. This mess is on the selfish and shameless senior senators from West Virginia and Arizona.
Repeat after me: the Fifty-Fifty senate sucks.
The last word goes to Michael Penn: